(Condensed version appeared in East Valley Kicker 11/12)

by Jenifer Tull-Gauger

In an article by Chad Brooks, according to a survey by YouGov, over 30% of Americans made New Year’s resolutions this year.  Out of those people, 33% either cheated or gave up on their resolution within a week.  New Year’s resolutions are a fun conversation topic that helps you get to know the resolver’s desires, but usually not much more than that.  The New Year can bring forward momentum, energy and the feeling of a fresh start.  But resolutions are rarely successful at bringing positive life change.

I don’t remember the last time I had a New Year’s resolution.  Instead, the New Year is the time that I review my goals.  I fill out a new goal sheet and lead my students at East Valley Martial Arts Kenshin Kan in doing the same for themselves.  This is not an easy endeavor for over 50 people.  The youngest students are six and need help writing.  I suspect some don’t want to be bothered with this, they’d rather do karate!

I understand this.  If writing my goals had been an optional exercise when I was a beginner, I probably never would have done it.  Class time is limited.  We have tried having a limited number of students, at their own request, bring their sheet home to fill it out.  Only a couple finished and brought it back.  If we at the dojo are to be serious about goal-setting, this must be done in class(es), during the time that we have already set aside to do something constructive.

Why is it so important?  Goal-setting can change your life.  Have you ever made a To Do list and then followed through on the tasks, crossing them out as you went?  Didn’t that feel great?  That is a very small portion of the positive feeling you will get when you have a life goal and you work toward it.  It could be any long-term goal, if it is from your heart.  My friend Joey O calls this a dream seed.

Goal-setting did not come easy to me.  On my first goal sheet, I could not think of anything to write under “long-term school or career goal.”  So I wrote “figure out what I want to be.”

That worked!  The logical side of my brain had done its job in writing down the goal.  Over the next several weeks, the creative side of my brain got to work, and I was open to ideas.  I kept coming back to the possibility of being a writer – specifically a children’s author.  I wrote that down on my sheet.

Next, I started acting on it.  I started writing stories and ideas for them.  I took a creative writing class.  I read books on writing and checked out local writers’ groups.  I have had minor successes in this goal, but those are not the only times I find my bliss.  When I am actively working on my goal I feel so elated and ALIVE, there is nothing to compare with it. You have really got to try it!

Later I looked back in my high school papers and saw that this writing goal was something I’d come up with years ago on a whim for a scholarship application.  Do not underestimate the wisdom of the young.  If you are on a quest to find your goal or direction, think of what you wanted to be when you were a kid, and why you wanted that.  Think of everything that brings you bliss – that is your compass.  Be open to the possibilities.

There’s no better time than now to get started, even if you have no idea what your goal(s) might be.  I started out that way.  If you’re like me, write down the goal of figuring out a goal.  The creative, intuitive side of your brain will figure it out.

If you had asked me about my goals before I started filling out karate goal sheets, I would have not had an answer, even though the desire to be an author had been there all along.  Writing my goals has been a map to my heart, my dreams, my right path and my innate talents. It can be yours too.

PS- If you are interested in setting your goals and need guidance, I would be happy to send you a complimentary e-mail with our karate goal sheet and specifics on writing powerful goals.  Just let me know!

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